Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Romans 16

Verse 1

I commend (συνιστημ). The regular word for letters of commendation as in 2 Corinthians 3:1 (συστατικων επιστολων). See also Romans 3:5. So here verses Romans 16:1; Romans 16:2 constitute Paul's recommendation of Phoebe, the bearer of the Epistle. Nothing else is known of her, though her name (Φοιβη) means bright or radiant.

Sister (αδελφην). In Christ, not in the flesh.

Who is a servant of the church (ουσαν διακονον της εκκλησιας). The etymology of διακονος we have had repeatedly. The only question here is whether it is used in a general sense or in a technical sense as in Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13. In favour of the technical sense of "deacon" or "deaconess" is the addition of "της εκκλησιας" (of the church). In some sense Phoebe was a servant or minister of the church in Cenchreae. Besides, right in the midst of the discussion in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 Paul has a discussion of γυναικας (verse Romans 16:11) either as women as deaconesses or as the wives of deacons (less likely though possible). The Apostolic Constitutions has numerous allusions to deaconesses. The strict separation of the sexes made something like deaconesses necessary for baptism, visiting the women, etc. Cenchreae, as the eastern port of Corinth, called for much service of this kind. Whether the deaconesses were a separate organization on a par with the deacons we do not know nor whether they were the widows alluded to in 1 Timothy 5:9.

Verse 2

Worthily of the saints (αξιως των αγιων). Adverb with the genitive as in Philippians 1:27 because the adjective αξιος is used with the genitive (Luke 3:8). "Receive her in a way worthy of the saints." This word αγιος had come to be the accepted term for followers of Christ.

Assist her (παραστητε). Second aorist (intransitive) active subjunctive of παριστημ, to stand by, with the dative case ("beside her"), the very word used by Paul of the help of Jesus in his trial (παρεστη, 2 Timothy 4:17). Used with ινα as προσδεξησθε.

In whatsoever matter (εν ω πραγματ). Incorporation of the antecedent (πραγματ) into the relative clause (ω).

She may have need of you (αν υμων χρηιζη). Indefinite relative clause with αν and the present subjunctive of χρηιζω with genitive.

A succourer (προστατις). Old and rare feminine form for the masculine προστατης, from προιστημ (προστατεω, common, but not in the N.T.), here only in the N.T. and not in the papyri. The word illustrates her work as διακονον and is perhaps suggested here by παραστητε, just before.

Of mine own self (εμου αυτου). "Of me myself."

Verse 3

In verses Romans 16:3-16 Paul sends his greetings to various brethren and sisters in Rome.

Prisca and Aquila (Πρισκαν κα Ακυλαν). This order always (Acts 18:18; Acts 18:26; 2 Timothy 4:19, and here) save in Acts 18:2; 1 Corinthians 16:19, showing that Prisca was the more prominent. Priscilla is a diminutive of Prisca, a name for women in the Acilian gens. She may have been a noble Roman lady, but her husband was a Jew of Pontus and a tent-maker by trade. They were driven from Rome by Claudius, came to Corinth, then to Ephesus, then back to Rome, and again to Ephesus. They were good travelling Christians.

My fellow-workers (τους συνεργους μου). Both in tent-making and in Christian service in Corinth and Ephesus.

Verse 4

Laid down their own necks (τον εαυτων τραχελον υπεθηκαν). First aorist active of υποτιθημ, old verb to place under (the axe of the executioner), only here in N.T. in this sense, though in 1 Timothy 4:16 to suggest. If literal or figurative, the incident may be connected with the uproar created by Demetrius in Ephesus. Certainly Paul felt deep obligation toward them (see Acts 20:34).

Not only I (ουκ εγω μονος). Rather, "not I alone" (adjective μονος). The Gentile churches also (great mission workers).

Verse 5

The church that is in their house (την κατ' οικον αυτων εκκλησιαν). The early Christians had no church buildings. See also Acts 12:2; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 1:2; Colossians 4:15. The Roman Christians had probably several such homes where they would meet.

Epainetus (Επαινετον). Nothing is known of him except this item, "the first-fruits of Asia" (απαρχη της Ασιας). An early convert from the province of Asia. Cf. Acts 2:9; 1 Corinthians 16:15 (about Stephanus and Achaia).

Verse 6

Mary (Μαριαν). Some MSS. have Μαριαμ, the Hebrew form. The name indicates a Jewish Christian in Rome. Paul praises her toil. See Luke 5:5.

Verse 7

Andronicus and Junias (Ανδρονιχου κα Ιουνιαν). The first is a Greek name found even in the imperial household. The second name can be either masculine or feminine.

Kinsmen (συγγενεις). Probably only fellow-countrymen as in Romans 9:13.

Fellow-prisoners (συναιχμαλωτυς). Late word and rare (in Lucian). One of Paul's frequent compounds with συν. Literally, fellow captives in war. Perhaps they had shared one of Paul's numerous imprisonments (2 Corinthians 11:23). In N.T. only here, Philemon 1:23; Colossians 4:10.

Of note (επισημο). Stamped, marked (επ σημα). Old word, only here and Matthew 27:16 (bad sense) in N.T.

Among the apostles (εν τοις αποστολοις). Naturally this means that they are counted among the apostles in the general sense true of Barnabas, James, the brother of Christ, Silas, and others. But it can mean simply that they were famous in the circle of the apostles in the technical sense.

Who have been in Christ before me (ο κα προ εμου γεγοναν εν Χριστω). Andronicus and Junias were converted before Paul was. Note γεγοναν (Koine form by analogy) instead of the usual second perfect active indicative form γεγονασιν, which some MSS. have. The perfect tense notes that they are still in Christ.

Verse 8

Ampliatus (Αμπλιατον). Some MSS. have a contracted form Amplias.

Verse 9

Urbanus (Ουρβανον). "A common Roman slave name found among members of the household" (Sanday and Headlam). A Latin adjective from urbs, city (city-bred).

Stachys (Σταχυν). A Greek name, rare, but among members of the imperial household. It means a head or ear of grain (Matthew 12:1).

Verse 10

Apelles (Απελλην). A name among Jews and a famous tragic actor also.

The approved (τον δοκιμον). The tried and true (1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 10:18; 2 Corinthians 13:7).

Them which are of the household of Aristobulus (τους εκ των Αριστοβουλου). The younger Aristobulus was a grandson of Herod the Great. Lightfoot suggests that some of the servants in this household had become Christians, Aristobulus being dead.

Verse 11

Herodion (Hερωιδιωνα). Probably one belonging to the Herod family like that above.

Kinsman (συγγενη). Merely fellow-countryman.

Them of the household of Narcissus (τους εκ των Ναρκισσου). "Narcissiani." There was a famous freedman of this name who was put to death by Agrippa. Perhaps members of his household.

Verse 12

Tryphaena and Tryphosa (Τρυφαιναν κα Τρυφωσαν). Probably sisters and possibly twins. Both names come from the same root, the verb τρυφαω, to live luxuriously (James 5:5). Denney suggests "Dainty and Disdain."

Persis (Περσιδα). A freedwoman was so named. She is not Paul's "beloved," but the "beloved" of the whole church.

Verse 13

Rufus (Ρουφον). A very common slave name, possibly the Rufus of Mark 15:21. The word means "red."

The chosen (τον εκλεκτον). Not "the elect," but "the select."

And mine (κα εμου). Paul's appreciation of her maternal care once, not his real mother.

Verse 14

Asyncritus (Ασυνκριτον). There is an inscription of a freedman of Augustus with this name.

Phlegon (Φλεγοντα). No light on this name till the historian of the second century A.D.

Hermes (Hερμην). A very common slave name.

Patrobas (Πατροβαν). Name of a freedman of Nero, abbreviated form of Patrobius.

Hermas (Hερμαν). Not the author of the Shepherd of Hermas. Common as a slave name, shortened form of Hermagoras, Hermogenes, etc.

The brethren that are with them (τους συν αυτοις αδελφους). Perhaps a little church in the house of some one.

Verse 15

Philologus (Φιλολογον). Another common slave name.

Julia (Ιουλιαν). The commonest name for female slaves in the imperial household because of Julius Caesar. Possibly these two were husband and wife.

Nereus (Νηρεα). Found in inscriptions of the imperial household. But the sister's name is not given. One wonders why.

Olympas (Ολυμπαν). Possibly an abbreviation for Olympiodorus.

All the saints that are with them (τους συν αυτοις παντας αγιους). Possibly another church in the house. These unnamed, the "and others," constitute the great majority in all our churches.

Verse 16

With a holy kiss (εν φιληματ αγιω). The near-east mode of salutation as hand-shaking in the Western. In China one shakes hands with himself. Men kissed men and women kissed women. See Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12.

Verse 17

Mark (σκοπειτε). Keep an eye on so as to avoid. Σκοπος is the goal, σκοπεω means keeping your eye on the goal.

Divisions (διχοστασιας). Old word for "standings apart," cleavages. In N.T. only here and Galatians 5:20.

Those which are causing (τουσ--ποιουντας). This articular participle clause has within it not only the objects of the participle but the relative clause ην υμεις εμαθετε (which you learned), a thoroughly Greek idiom.

Verse 18

But their own belly (αλλα τη εαυτων κοιλια). Dative case after δουλευουσιν. A blunt phrase like the same picture in Philippians 3:19 "whose god is the belly," more truth than caricature in some cases.

By their smooth and fair speech (δια της χρηστολογιας κα ευλογιας). Two compounds of λογος (speech), the first (from χρηστος and λογος) is very rare (here only in N.T.), the second is very common (ευ and λογος).

Beguile (εξαπατωσιν). Present active indicative of the double compound verb εξαπαταω (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 3:18).

Of the innocent (των ακακων). Old adjective (α privative and κακος), without evil or guile, in N.T. only here and Hebrews 7:26 (of Christ).

Verse 19

Is come abroad (αφικετο). Second aorist middle indicative of αφικνεομα, old verb, to come from, then to arrive at, only here in N.T.

Over you (εφ' υμιν). "Upon you." Simple unto that which is evil (ακεραιους εις το κακον). Old adjective from α privative and κεραννυμ, to mix. Unmixed with evil, unadulterated.

Verse 20

Shall bruise (συντριψε). Future active of συντριβω, old verb, to rub together, to crush, to trample underfoot. Blessed promise of final victory over Satan by "the God of peace." "Shortly" (εν ταχε). As God counts time. Meanwhile patient loyalty from us.

Verse 21

Verses Romans 16:21-23 form a sort of postscript with greetings from Paul's companions in Corinth. Timothy was with Paul in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 1:1) before he came to Corinth. Lucius may be the one mentioned in Acts 13:1. Jason was once Paul's host (Acts 17:5-9) in Thessalonica, Sosipater may be the longer form of Sopater of Acts 20:4. They are all Paul's fellow-countrymen (συγγενεις).

Verse 22

I Tertius (εγω Τερτιος). The amanuensis to whom Paul dictated the letter. See 2 Thessalonians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18.

Verse 23

Gaius my host (Γαιος ο ξενος μου). Perhaps the same Gaius of 1 Corinthians 1:14 (Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4), but whether the one of 3 John 1:1 we do not know. Ξενος was a guest friend, and then either a stranger (Matthew 25:35) or a host of strangers as here. This Gaius was plainly a man of some means as he was the host of all the church. Erastus (2 Timothy 4:20) was "the treasurer of the city" (ο οικονομος της πολεως), one of the outstanding men of Corinth, the "steward" (house-manager) or city manager. See Luke 12:42; Luke 16:1. He is probably the administrator of the city's property.

Quartus (Κουαρτος). Latin name for fourth.

Verse 24

Is not genuine, not in Aleph A B C Coptic.

Verse 25

Verses Romans 16:25-27 conclude the noble Epistle with the finest of Paul's doxologies.

To him that is able (τω δυναμενω). Dative of the articular participle of δυναμα. See similar idiom in Ephesians 3:20.

To stablish (στηριξα). First aorist active infinitive of στηριζω, to make stable.

According to my gospel (κατα το ευαγγελιον μου). Same phrase in Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 2:8. Not a book, but Paul's message as here set forth.

The preaching (το κηρυγμα). The proclamation, the heralding.

Of Jesus Christ (Ιησου Χριστου). Objective genitive, "about Jesus Christ."

Revelation (αποκαλυψιν). "Unveiling."

Of the mystery (μυστηριου). Once unknown, but now revealed.

Kept in silence (σεσιγημενου). Perfect passive participle of σιγαω, to be silent, state of silence.

Through times eternal (χρονοις αιωνιοις). Associative instrumental case, "along with times eternal" (Robertson, Grammar, p. 527). See 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:10.

Verse 26

But now is manifested (φανερωθεντος δε νυν). First aorist passive participle of φανεροω, to make plain, genitive case in agreement with μυστηριου.

By the scriptures of the prophets (δια γραφων προφητικων). "By prophetic scriptures." Witnessed by the law and the prophets (Romans 3:21). This thread runs all through Romans.

According to the command of the eternal God (κατ' επιταγην του αιωνιου θεου). Paul conceives that God is in charge of the redemptive work and gives his orders (Romans 1:1-5; Romans 10:15). The same adjective αιωνιος is here applied to God that is used of eternal life and eternal punishment in Matthew 25:46.

Unto obedience of faith (εις υπακοην της πιστεως). See Romans 1:5.

Made known unto all the nations (εις παντα τα εθνη γνωρισθεντος). First aorist passive participle of γνωριζω, still the genitive case agreeing with μυστηριου in verse Romans 16:25.

Verse 27

To the only wise God (μονω σοφω θεω). Better, "to God alone wise." See 1 Timothy 1:17 without σοφω.

To whom (ω). Some MSS. omit.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/romans-16.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.